Phil Murphy vs. Kim Guadagno: A Preview of the New Jersey’s Likely Governor’s Race

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Phil Murphy attends a press conference at Opel headquarters on April 10, 2013 in Ruesselsheim, Germany. (Getty)

New Jersey will hold its gubernatorial primaries on June 6th, but based on all of the polling that has been conducted in the past few months, it looks like the final two candidates heading into the general election will almost certainly be Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno.

The winner of this election, of course, will be replacing Republican Governor Chris Christie, who can not run again due to New Jersey’s term limits. This election will revolve heavily around Donald Trump, with Murphy running as an anti-Trump candidate and with Guadagno being associated with Trump ally Chris Christie.

Though the results of the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries are not yet in, here’s a look at the likely matchup between Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno this November.


Kim Guadagno is the Current Lieutenant Governor & Secretary of State

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Kim Guadagno speaks to a legislator on February 25, 2014. (Getty)

Kim Guadagno brings a fair amount of experience to the table. Starting off her career in law, she in 2008 began serving as the sheriff of Monmouth County. Then, in 2009, Guadagno became Chris Christie’s pick for lieutenant governor. New Jersey had not had a lieutenant governor before, so this was the first election with this position on the ballot.

Ultimately, Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno won the 2009 election, and Christie later announced that Guadagno would serve in the dual roles of lieutenant governor and secretary of state. She has served in both of these positions ever since.

In her run for governor, Kim Guadagno has noticeably distanced herself from Chris Christie, who has recently maintained an approval rating of about 20 percent. When she launched her gubernatorial campaign, she didn’t mention Chris Christie’s name a single time, and she promised that “better days are ahead in New Jersey,” according to NJ.com.

Guadagno also during her campaign has taken some shots at Chris Christie, at one point joking at a campaign stop that she doesn’t travel in a helicopter, clearly a reference to Chris Christie’s frequent use of the state police helicopter.

Back in February, Guadagno made this distance explicit, saying that she and Christie couldn’t be more different.

“We’re completely different in style,” Guadagno said, according to Politico. “Plainly, we’re completely different how we approach problems in New Jersey.”

Guadagno also said that she wants to fix the fact that the people of New Jersey don’t trust their elected officials, an obvious reaction to the Bridgegate scandal among other Christie controversies.

“My concern here is people in New Jersey do not trust their public officials, and we have a serious lack of trust over the last couple of years,” Guadagno said, according the USA Today. “A governor who is willing to limit her own power and give that power over to someone who will be independent who only answers to the taxpayer of New Jersey would send a very large signal to the people of New Jersey they can begin to trust their government again.”

Guadagno has also distanced herself from Trump, which makes sense considering Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in New Jersey by 14 percentage points. In October 2016, after a tape was released on which Donald Trump is heard bragging about sexually assaulting women, Guadagno criticized the Republican nominee.

“No apology can excuse away Mr. Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” she said on Twitter. “We’re raising my 3 boys to be better than that.”

NJ.com subsequently reached out to Guadagno to confirm whether this meant she wasn’t voting for Trump; she said that she would not be voting for Hillary Clinton, but she also would not be voting for Donald Trump.


Phil Murphy is a Former Goldman Sachs Financier & Former U.S. Ambassador to Germany

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Phil Murphy speaks during a press conference at Opel headquarters on April 10, 2013 in Ruesselsheim, Germany. (Getty)

Phil Murphy’s background is quite different from that of Kim Guadagno, as he is a 23-year Goldman Sachs veteran.

Murphy joined Goldman Sachs in 1983, proceeding to work his way up and eventually becoming the head of the company’s office in Frankfurt, Germany. After a few years in this position, he became the president of President of Goldman Sachs in Asia, working out of Hong Kong. In the early 2000s, he became senior director and retired from the company a few years later.

In May 2005, Murphy was named chair of the New Jersey Benefits Task Force by Acting Governor Richard Codey. Then, from 2006 through 2009, he was the national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee, where he worked alongside Howard Dean.

In 2009, Barack Obama named Phil Murphy his United States Ambassador to Germany, and Murphy served in that position until 2013.

Murphy announced his candidacy for governor in May 2016, becoming the first person to enter the race. Throughout his campaign, Murphy has been quite critical of Donald Trump, at one point seeming to compare the rise of Trump to the rise of Hitler.

“I’m a modest student of Germany history. And I know what was being said about somebody else in the 1920’s,” Murphy said during a town hall, according to NJ.com. “And you could unfortunately drop in names from today into those observations from the 1920’s, and the moves that have been made early on only aid and abet that argument.”

In a recent television ad, Phil Murphy targeted President Donald Trump, clearly positioning himself as the anti-Trump candidate in the race.

“The fight back starts here, starts now, and starts with us,” Murphy said in the ad. “…As governor, I will defend New Jersey and stand up to President Trump every time he attacks the vulnerable and defies our Constitution.”

Recently, Phil Murphy received the endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden.

“This is the single most important race in the country in the next three years, before the presidential race,” Biden said of the New Jersey gubernatorial election, according to the USA Today. “This is an off-year election year for the fourth-largest state in America, and the whole country — and not an exaggeration — the world is going to be looking.”


A Recent Poll Shows Murphy Leading Guadagno

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Kim Guadagno listens as Chris Christie delivers an address on February 24, 2015. (Getty)

According to a Quinnipiac poll conducted in May, Phil Murphy has the advantage over Kim Guadagno going into the general election.

In a hypothetical matchup between Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno, Murphy ended up winning 50 percent of the vote compared to Guadagno ‘s 25 percent.

However, it should be noted that at this point in the election, a very substantial percentage of voters have not heard enough about either of the candidates. In that aforementioned Quinnipiac poll, 57 percent of voter said they haven’t heard enough about Phil Murphy and Kim Guadagno to form an opinion of them.

In another recent poll from Stockton, 40 percent of voters said they’re unfamiliar with Phil Murphy, and 31 percent said they are not familiar with Kim Guadagno.